View Full Version : The Big Lift (1950)

George Eller
10-04-2007, 11:01 PM

The Big Lift (1950)

From back cover - In 1948, the Soviet Union blockades the Allies sectors of Berlin to bring the entire city under control. A semi-documentary about the resulting Berlin airlift gives way to stories of two fictitious US Air Force participants: Sgt. Hank Kowalski, whose hatred of Germans proves resistant to change, and Sgt. Jimmy McCullogh, whose pursuit of an attractive German war widow gives him a crash course in the seamy side of occupied Berlin.

The Big Lift [Region 1 - for U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada, and Bermuda DVD players]



The Big Lift [Region 2 - for Japan, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East, including Egypt DVD players]



The Big Lift (1950)

Realistic, gritty and sad., 5 September 2005

Author: CmdrCody from United States

The movie, "The Big Lift," starring Montgomery Clift as Flight Engineer Danny MacCullough, represents a time machine back into the beginnings of the Cold War. It's shot in gritty black and white by director George Seaton to enhance the images of life among the ruins of post WWII Berlin. It's also a very nice slice of Air Force flying in the early 50's and as a professional pilot, I can say that the flying sequences showing the C-54 cockpit are quite realistic. In one scene, Clift runs cockpit checklists for the pilots who are flying that are completely authentic. There is also a nice description of how GCA approach control works, which still exists as a backup at todays airports.

Some claim that Paul Douglas' character, "Kowalski," isn't believable as an anti-German bigot, but I thought he was "spot-on." There are men in their 80's today who still feel the same way.

German actor O.E. Hasse portrays "Stieber, the Scrounger." He's a bit of comic relief as a spy for the Russians, watching Templehof field, counting the Allied aircraft as they land. He says that he has to lessen the count so that the Russians will believe him. Look for Hasse in another excellent war picture, "Decision Before Dawn", where he plays Wehrmacht Colonel Von Ecker of the XI Panzer Corps, deployed east of the Rhine to counter the American Seventh Army during the closing months of the war. Also like "The Big Lift," this movie was shot amongst the ruins of Germany and used real Army personnel on screen.

"Decision Before Dawn," "Battleground," "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "The Big Lift" are four b+w movies made in this era which attempted to get a real taste for the movie goer of what the men experienced during World War II and the period just after. All four are favorites of mine and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Thank you for reading my comments.


More Comments:

Truly a Time Capsule of the Berlin Airlift, 30 April 2000
Author: David Diamond ([email protected]) from Great Neck, NY, USA

This is film is one of the best true-life adaptations of an historical event - The Berlin Airlift. It was made on location in Berlin with the full cooperation of the US Military who actually played minor acting roles with the exception of the principal actors. The movie does an excellent job in portraying the bleak situation that the Berliners had to endure as a result of the Soviet blockade along with all the wrecked structures all of the city and the hording of black market staples such as coffee and coal. The most interesting portrayal in this film is the Paul Douglas character of that of an American seargant who has no love for the Germans and goes out of his way to be rude and act like a true "occupation" taking revenge out on a former Nazi prison guard that tormented him while he was a prisoner.

Its probably the most realistic portrayal of an American soldier after the war when technically the US Army was an occupation force along with the British and French. In addition, the portrayal of the German widow who really hated the Americans was probably realistic as well. These characters seemed more than stereotypes which was common in films portraying the political situation at the time. It does a good job in showing how ordinary soldiers and people can have divided loyalties and wrestle with the adverse situation that befell them in Berlin at the time. Truly a time capsule of Postwar Berlin.

The Big Lift: Part 1 - video clip

The Big Lift: Part 2 - video clip

The Big Lift: Part 3 - video clip


10-05-2007, 12:48 AM
Funny you should post this...I just saw this last month.
That broad had me fooled to the end.

George Eller
10-05-2007, 01:07 AM
Funny you should post this...I just saw this last month.
That broad had me fooled to the end.

It's been many, many years since I watched The Big Lift (1950) and the other movie I posted today - The Search (1948) - also starring Montgomery Clift. Both movies were filmed and took place in Germany shortly after WWII.

I plan to order both on-line to add to my movie collection.